February 11th, 2021

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

27898 Thursday, 11 February 2021 The Rivals

I wonder if the setter knew it was my turn, and deliberately included Arsenal and Chelsea, Spurs’ London rivals, and Everton who beat us by the odd goal in nine last night to dump us out of the FA Cup. At least the location of our state of the art training facility, Enfield, also gets a mention. Otherwise, this occupied me for 16.53, which makes it the trickiest of the week so far, but not by much. I rather liked the style of cluing, with many devices represented, sometime two or three of the set in a single clue. I think the “piece of verse” was a lesser-known last time I logged it, but apart from a couple of bits of general (but not necessarily that general) knowledge the words to be entered are of the common variety and shouldn’t tax you too much. The great majority of the definitions are single words, which may be distinctive.
I have transcribed for you the clues, underlined the definitions and put the SOLUTIONS in bold capitals.

1 Great bit of coiffure with king leaving church (3-5)
TOP-NOTCH The bit of coiffure is a TOP KNOT, as sported by Gareth Bale currently. Remove (leaving) the K(ing) and add the conventional CH(urch)
5 Pass on name taken from dancing wenches (6)
ESCHEW Pass on as in “I’ll pass on that” and not the more usual die. Take N(ame) out of WENCHES and make the remainder dance until they end up in the desired formation
10 Wheels secured by new tool men pick up in race (5,5,5)
MONTE CARLO RALLY Start by deciding the wheels are a CAR. Then assume “new” indicates an anagram and surround (secure) the CAR with the letters of TOOL MEN tastefully arranged. Add RALLY for pick up, as in the sick man rallied. Or just bung the whole thing in without too much thinking.
11 Coming out of their shells, Brad and Lucy not just loud (7)
RAUCOUS Four words contribute their internal letters, as indicated by “coming out of their shells”. So bRAd, lUCy nOt jUSt.
12 Proof one's passed hummus, say, all of meal regularly put away (7)
DIPLOMA The surface suggested a rather unsavoury examination of one’s poo, but break the definition as indicated, and hummus is then an example of DIP to which you add the odd/even letters of aLl Of MeAl.
13 Irritation overwhelming terribly shy figure (8)
PHYSIQUE Irritation equals PIQUE, which “overwhelms” an anagram (terribly) of SHY
15 Governess protecting current brood here (5)
EYRIE It helps if you know the sometime profession of Jane EYRE, and that I is the conventional symbol for electric current. “Protect” one with the other for the brood location.
18 Ex-PM who will be given a hand at the table (5)
NORTH Prime Minister of the UK 1770-1783, so responsible for ridding the country of the burden of running America. Also a position at a bridge table.
20 Declare a cat can be heard (8)
ANNOUNCE Sounds like AN OUNCE, being (according to Chambers) an epithet given to various types of large wild cat.
23 Everton vacated ground somewhere in London (7)
ENFIELD Likes to describe itself as London’s top borough, which is at least geographically true. Vacate EvertoN, leaving just the EN, add FIELD for ground.
25 Defence in Arsenal's opening games in division (7)
PARAPET A***nal’s opening is A, games are what we used to call PE at school. Stick those into PART for division.
26 Be the lead in Hamlet, say, taking king in hand with piece of deception (4,5,6)
PLAY FIRST FIDDLE The lead both literally as first violin in an orchestra and in figurative senses. Hamlet is a PLAY, put R for king into FIST for hand and complete with FIDDLE for piece of deception.
27 Place promoting weight-loss tablet (6)
LOCALE Promoting weight loss is LO-CAL and the tablet of choice E(cstacy), but don’t say I said so.
28 Very green, dewy ground around island and river (4-4)
WIDE-EYED Chambers allows naïve as one meaning. The letters of DEWY are spread randomly (ground) round I(sland) and the randomly-selected river DEE.

1 Sentence about revolutionary R&B sound (6)
TIMBRE Sentence is (prison) TIME placed around the letters R and B in reverse order.
2 Clerk in high spirits, entertaining new escort (9)
PENPUSHER Lat in, as I was looking for an escort. High spirits is/are PEP (“full of”), N(ew) is inserted and USHER for escort completes
3 Heavy figure to excite briefly (7)
ONEROUS  Today’s second figure, here wordplay indicating ONE. Excite briefly gives ROUSe
4 Order from Cheltenham's Head Girl (5)
CLASS Cheltenham’s Head is C, and girl is the generic LASS
6 What wine's knocked back in some verse? (7)
STROPHE A reverse (knocked back) of EH for what and PORT’S for wine’s
7 Terrible experience with love? I'm surprised (5)
HELLO Terrible experience is HELL (though CS Lewis opined that a hell for men and a heaven for mosquitoes could easily be combined). Add the O/0 for love.
8 Traveller, much prettier, getting picked up (8)
WAYFARER Well, yes, does sound like (picked up) WAY FAIRER, a lot prettier.
9 Move to invest pounds, running club (8)
BLUDGEON Last in, looking for a running club like Harriers or somesuch. However, move is BUDGE, with an L for pound “invested", and running is ON.
14 Jam accompanying a track started by Queen (8)
QUANDARY Accompanying gives AND (easy to miss), a track gives A R(ailwa)Y, and QU(een) starts
16 Cost dropping right down, lend yen for Asian growth area (4,5)
RICE PADDY I’m not sure of this, and I suspect an error. Cost is PRICE, but you don’t drop the R(ight) down, you drop the P. Lend is ADD, and Y(en) completes. Cute definition.
17 Let rip on spreading force globally (8)
INTERPOL A straight anagram (spreading) of LET RIP ON
19 Attentive husband required to go topless (7)
HEEDFUL You need H(usband) before making required, NEEDFUL lose its top.
21 Elevate the core of sun worship (7)
UPRAISE The core of sun (another middle) is U, and worship PRAISE.
22 Go to the races after a knock on the head (6)
ATTEND I’ve only just worked this out. The races are TT, placed after A, and knock on the head produces END
24 Currency smuggled into Chelsea, say (5)
FRANC Smuggled is RAN, and Chelsea is (allegedly) a F(ootball) C(lub). Insert one into the other
25 In art, children phrase it the wrong way (5)
PUTTI  Simple enough, once you split definition from wordplay. Phrase is PUT (that’s one way to phrase/put it) and IT the wrong way is TI. Putti are chubby, usually quasi angelic small nude male children, the depiction of which might well draw the attention of the authorities, possibly even Interpol, in today’s moral climate.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1808 by Alfie

A lovely puzzle today from Alfie with lots of inventive clues, pitched a bit towards the harder end: I was 9 minutes yesterday and 11 today, done straight after. So this is Alfie's 11th puzzle (aka Noel), his previous being in September last year, and they've all had a devious alphabetical theme (thanks to jackkt and johninterred for their helpful info in that and earlier puzzles). And so there appears to be today, although I'm not sure I've fully worked it out. (See below for what I did manage, if you wish to pause and have a look yourself.) Many thanks to Alfie!

1 Girl discovered in brothel, enamoured (6)
HELENA - "discovered in" brotHEL ENAmoured
4 What church often has to hope (6)
ASPIRE - and a church often has A SPIRE
8 Vehicle from CBI man I rent? (7)
MINICAB - anagram (rent = torn apart) of CBI MAN I
10 Fire close to club lounge (5)
BLAZE - B ("close to" cluB) LAZE (lounge)
11 At first, Sal’s pretty eyelashes cutely flutter (4)
SPEC - "at first" Sal’s Pretty Eyelashes Cutely
12 Hitting Clonmel on vacation before trip (8)
CLOUTING - CL (ClonmeL "on vacation") OUTING (trip)
14 Midday air aroused farmworker (9)
DAIRYMAID - anagram (aroused) of MIDDAY AIR
18 Bury requirement not to finish off prisoner (8)
INTERNEE - INTER (bury) NEEd (requirement, not finishing off)
20 Different? Spain’s the same on the outside (4)
ELSE - EL (Spain's "the") SE (SamE "on the outside"). I suppose as in somewhere else/different.
22 One arrested by the force? (5)
THIEF - &lit (see glossary): I (one) arrested by THE F(orce). The entire clue is both wordplay and a definition.
23 An eye, maybe, for a newspaper story? (7)
FEATURE - double definition, a feature being any part of the face.
24 Eccentric little woman bringing spice (6)
NUTMEG - NUT (eccentric) MEG (little woman - as in short for Margaret)
25 King George I, the day before becoming upset (6)
GRIEVE - GR I (King George I) EVE (the day before)

1 Scotsman possibly leaving note in mess (6)
HAMISH - MI (note - do, re, mi, etc., variously spelt for the setter's convenience) in HASH (mess)
2 Oil producer’s lies end badly (7)
LINSEED - anagram (badly) of LIES END. For the surface reading, the  's is possessive - the lies of the oil producer; for the cryptic, read it as "oil producer IS (i.e. equals) lies end badly".
3 Appropriate police station form (4)
NICK - triple definition: steal; copshop; condition.
5 Bushman close to you, moving below us? (8)
SUBHUMAN - anagram (moving) of BUSHMAN and U ("close to" yoU)
6 Arab lipread quip, missing odd bits (5)
IRAQI - L I p R e AQ u I p, "missing odd bits"
7 Go when green has changed? Start off yes (6)
ENERGY - anagram (has changed) of GREEN, Y ("start off" Yes)
9 This is certainly cow meat (5-4)
BULLY-BEEF - to BULLY = to cow, BEEF (meat). Strange clue, that I think works best as a cryptic definition, with a pun on "cow" (being both bully and animal). I'm open to a better suggestion. The answer was also news to me, bully beef being another term for corned/boiled/pickled beef.
13 Weapon to reveal with search (3,5)
AIR RIFLE - AIR (reveal) with RIFLE (search). LOI, as I was slow seeing the reveal bit for some reason.
15 Perhaps stop scratching sole due for mending (7)
DELOUSE - anagram (for mending) of SOLE DUE
16 Outfit — number for a future queen (6)
KITTEN - KIT (outfit) TEN (number). A queen being an adult female cat.
17 Go back from park and garden, briefly (6)
RECEDE - REC[reation ground] (park) and EDEn (garden, "briefly")
19 Idiot handling small, unexpected development (5)
TWIST - TWIT (idiot) handling S(mall)
21 Loud tune is not bad (4)
FAIR - F[orte] (loud) AIR (tune)

Ok, so we have the last and first letters of each row of the across answers in the grid being A-A, B-B, and so on down to G-G in the bottom row... and that's about it, as far as I can see, apart from a similar double H in Hamish and double I in Iraqi. I look forward to sharper eyes enlightening me further!

Times 27,899: Robots Need Love Too

A quality Friday puzzle, this, that kept me busy for the full 10 minutes ending in the 1dn/10ac double bill in the NE corner. Some exciting North American, capital city and Cockney solecism content: I thought 18dn was my COD pick for a long time but I'm a sucker for a reverse cryptic so I think 1dn may have won it by a nose in the final stretch. Many thanks to the setter for a good 'un!

1 Bachelor with a single friend in Worcester, perhaps (4,5)
BONE CHINA - B(achelor) + ONE [single] + CHINA (China plate = mate = friend). FOI

6 Protective garment being worn after thirty days (5)
APRON - ON [being worn, as in clothes] after APR(il). SOI, feeling cocky so far

9 Wonky regulation’s been scrapped: that’s what I want to hear! (3,5,7)
NOW YOU'RE TALKING - (WONKY REGULATION*). TOI. But this is about the point at which Friday kicks in

10 Bomber following one in the role of peace protester (6)
FIASCO - F(ollowing) + I [one] + AS [in the role of] + CO (conscientious objector). LOI

11 Put out left-leaning workers’ organisation: it goes against the grain (8)
CROSSCUT - CROSS [put out] + reversed TUC

13 Purge after bribe by house of old dramatist (10)
SOPHOCLEAN - CLEAN [purge] after SOP by HO

14 Essential oil filling rings is never drunk (4)
OTTO - "filling" O O [(two) rings] is TT (= teetotal = never drunk)

16 Party had endless port (4)
DOHA - DO [party] + HA{d}. Qatari capital

17 Cheat swaggering, say, irreverently (4,2,4)
TAKE IN VAIN - TAKE IN [chat] + VAIN [swaggering]

19 Capital girl, by Jove — a little different! (8)
SARAJEVO - SARA [girl] by (JOVE*). Bosnian capital

20 Before repair, initially aim to stop very old machine giving out (6)
VENDOR - before R{epair}, END [aim] to "stop" V(ery) O(ld). Does anyone really call a vending machine a vendor? Maybe robots are people too.

23 Celebrate? It might be deflating for a Cockney (3,4,4,4)
LET ONE'S HAIR DOWN - or, as pronounced in the vicinity of Bow bells, let one's 'air down

24 British-Italian music man recruits others to back shows (5)
TOSTI - hidden reversed in {recru}ITS OT{hers}

25 Give up, when empty, some little cup (9)
DEMITASSE - DEMIT [give up] + AS [when] + S{om}E

1 Scottish town to make suffer prosecutor? (5)
BANFF - reverse cryptic: if you BAN "FF" from SU{ff}ER, you get SUER = prosecutor. STLOI, mainly I contend because I think of Banff as a Canadian, not a Scottish town, thanks to my new continental loyalties...

2 Some American people’s unfamiliar, clumsy, and I would add welcome customs (15)
NEWHAMPSHIRITES - NEW [unfamiliar] + HAM [clumsy (as in "-fisted")] + P.S. [I would add] + HI [welcome] + RITES [customs]. Merrily bunging in NEWFOUNDLANDERS proved a misstep for this one...

3 Pair of hacks get a move on! (4,4)
CHOP CHOP! - CHOP [hack] * 2

4 Ultimate failure of one to pick Bond up is concerning (2,2)
IN RE - take ERNIE, who picks the Premium Bonds, drop his last letter ("ultimate failure") and reverse. I biffed this from the enumeration but it was a delightful pennydrop just now, much later on...

5 Sweet son coming across bitter, following a flogging (10)
AFTERSALES - AFTERS [sweet] + S(on), coming "across" ALE [bitter]. Flogging as in selling

6 Old supporter of Sky TV kicking off eventually (2,4)
AT LAST - ATLAS [old supporter of sky] + T{v}

7 Come down hard in a way that’s “petty”? (4,4,3,4)
RAIN CATS AND DOGS - cryptic def, "petty" as in "pertaining to pets"

8 Black community on campus giving something to don for retirement (9)
NIGHTGOWN - NIGHT [block] + GOWN [community on campus, as opposed to "town"]. Nice play on two meanings of the word "don".

12 Poorly after swallowing tablet, David’s developed rash (3-7)
ILL-ADVISED - ILL [poorly] + (DAVID'S*) "swallowing" an E

13 Teams place computers in Canadian building (4,5)
SIDE SPLIT - SIDES [teams] + PL(ace) + I(nformation) T(echnology). I didn't know this term so had to construct entirely from the cryptic; looking at pictures of sidesplits I guess they do look more North American than British. More land-efficient than a bungalow, apparently.

15 Maybe cricket nets touching under cover? (2,6)
IN SECRET - INSECT [cricket] "nets" RE [touching]

18 Spirit of Belfast radio presenter? (6)
DJINNI - or a DJ IN N.I.

21 Row involving furious Pole? (5)
RANGE - or, fairly reverse-cryptically, N [pole] in a RAGE

22 Close hostilities with ultimatum, finally (4)
WARM - WAR [hostilities] + {ultimatu}M